Edinburgh and Lothians could be next for tougher Covid restrictions

Rising cases put area ‘under review’

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 7:30 am
Nicola Sturgeon says if everyone sticks to the rules we can avoid tougher restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon says if everyone sticks to the rules we can avoid tougher restrictions

EDINBURGH and the Lothians remain “under review” over whether further Covid restrictions will be imposed but extra measures have been ruled out for now.

Nicola Sturgeon said health officials had considered whether to recommend that Lothian should be subjected to the same clamp-down as a large area of the west of Scotland, where people are banned from visiting each other’s homes.

A further 53 people in Edinburgh and the Lothians had tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, the First Minister told the daily briefing yesterday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

But because there was no “theme” in the increase it was decided not to impose restrictions beyond those which apply to the whole of Scotland - what is being described as the “six-two rule”, limiting meetings inside or outside to six people from two households.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We are monitoring the case numbers in Lothian very closely.

“The national incident management team that made the recommendation to continue the restrictions in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde areas looked closely at Lothian and decided not to recommend any additional restrictions, but that remains under review.

“One of the reasons for that decision not to recommend additional restrictions at this stage is that unlike Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire there wasn’t a sense there was a particular driver that necessitated particular restrictions at this stage.

“But as with every aspect of Covid this is a changing and changeable situation, so we will monitor it.

“If everybody abides by the restrictions to limit meet-ups to six people from two households, if they all follow the FACTS advice, if they download the Protect Scotland app, if they do all of the right things then we can avoid any stricter restrictions in Lothian.”

Of the latest 267 coronavirus cases reported, 101 were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, 59 in Lanarkshire, 53 in Lothian and 13 in Ayrshire and Arran. The remaining 41 cases were spread across the remaining seven health board areas.

The ban on households meeting up was first imposed in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire. Then, as Covid-19 case numbers rose across west central Scotland, Ms Sturgeon extended them to Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, then North and South Lanarkshire.

National clinical director Jason Leitch said: “Lothian is next on the league table but there is no theme coming through from Test and Protect that tells us to do anything moire than we have done across the whole country.

“It is up to the people of Lothian to get these numbers down and their individual behaviours will do that.”

Ms Sturgeon told the briefing the west of Scotland ban on household visits appeared to be having an effect.

She said: “The good news is that the early indications suggest that the restrictions in place in Glasgow City, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire might be helping to slow down the increase in new cases. That at this stage is positive but the number of new cases in these parts of Greater Glasgow and Clyde still remains high and is still increasing albeit we think at a slower rate than would have been the case without these restrictions being in place.”

She also said there had been one more death of a patient who first tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 28 days - taking the total under this measurement to 2,500.

The new limit of six people from two households meeting up came into effect on Monday. Children under 12 do not count towards the total.

Previously up to eight people from three households could meet indoors and as many as 15 people from five households were allowed to gather outside.

Meanwhile, the hospitality industry warned the Scotland-wide limit on would have a “devastating” impact on pubs and restaurants.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said the sector was on “life support” and warned that up to 90,000 jobs could be lost if a crash like the 2008 financial crisis happened.

Hotelier Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for SHG, said pubs and restaurants understood the public health reasons for the restrictions, but they were a blow for the industry.

He said: “The rule of six is devastating for us.

“Personally, I’m 24.6 per cent down this weekend on the previous weekend before it came in and across the group it’s 25-30 per cent comparing this weekend to the previous one.

“We are already running at 55-60 per cent capacity compared to pre-Covid so if you add that together it’s having a major effect on us.”SHG represents restaurant and bar businesses which collectively employ almost 6000 staff and its members include Di Maggio’s, G1 Group and Signature Pubs.

Mr Montgomery continued: “The two household thing is the big one. We are used to the three households over eight people but now with the flick of a switch it’s six people over two households and the age limit of 12 and under has not really helped.

“We as a sector totally get that health has to come before profit, we understand that and we are doing every single thing we are being asked to do.

He wants the UK Government to consider extending job support with a sector-specific furlough for hospitality, and to continue the reduced five per cent

VAT rate for hospitality past its current expiry date of January.

He said: “There are going to be a lot casualties in the sector. Many small operators have only got one or two places and their life savings are put into this and they stand at the brink of disaster at the moment.

“We are living on a life support machine – one more thing could just flick that switch and that’s it.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Subscribe to the Edinburgh Evening News online and enjoy unlimited access to trusted, fact-checked news and sport from Edinburgh and the Lothians. Visit https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director